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Government accused of causing deaths in Kutaisi

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 22
Opposition parties began holding street rallies in Kutaisi on December 21 to protest against what happened during the demolition of the WWII memorial, when two people, 8 year old Nino Jincharadze and her mother, were killed. They demanded a proper investigation of the incident and the abandonment of plans to move part of Parliament to Kutaisi. Almost all the opposition activists blamed the President for the tragedy.

Kutaisi needs jobs more than a Parliament building, said Koba Davitashvili, Leader of the People’s party, who said that the tragedy had been caused by the Government’s decision. “This was the Government’s mistake but now it wants to carry on with its plan. Everyone should understand that no such building should be constructed at the site of this tragedy,” Davitashvili said. Gubaz Sanikidze, leader of the National Forum, accused the Government of declaring war on history and historical monuments. "Only the Government wanted to demolish this monument, no one took local residents' attitude into consideration,” Sanikidze said.

Some other opposition groups blamed Saakashvili for all the unpleasant things happening in the country. "All decisions are made by the President and all tragedies are caused by him, though others are always blamed,” stated Temur Shashiashvili, Leader of the White Movement. The Movement for Fair Georgia stated through its Press Service that the Georgian Government and the President himself were responsible for the tragic incident and the Movement promises to build a church on the site of the war memorial as soon as it comes into power. "When the Government started talking about this demolition we asked it not to do it because local people’s opinions had not been taken into consideration. The clearance of the site was hastened by the President, this caused the tragedy and therefore he is responsible for it. The sign hung there which states that a Parliament building will be opened there is a mockery of the public and nothing more after this accident,” the Movement’s statement says.

The sign also irritated Jondi Baghaturia, leader of the Georgian Troupe, who said that such a sign being there a day after the accident is entirely unacceptable and all those who did this should be punished. "Instead of black flags of mourning we see a sign saying that Parliament is to be opened there. This is a cynical way to treat the 8-year old girl, her mother and all the WWII heroes the monument commemorated,” Baghaturia said.

Labour also made a statement on this issue on December 21. One of its leaders, Soso Shatberashvili, said that the main guilt rests with those who ordered the demolition of the monument, and not the company and workers who obeyed this order. "The Government is trying to shift the blame for this onto Sakfetkmretsvi (the company which carried out the explosion), when the real offenders are the Government and the President, who planned this operation, when people had not been warned beforehand,” Shatberashvili said.

The Government has said that locals were warned about the explosion a week ago. This is confirmed by residents, who say that police told them to stay indoors during the demolition. At the rally the neighbours of the two persons killed argued with opposition members who blamed the Government for the tragedy.

The Government still blames Sakfetkmretsvi. "Security standards for carrying out such work were ignored,” Georgian Deputy Prosecutor General Davit Sakvarelidze has said, adding that this is why Technical Director of the company Avtandil Darsavelidze has been arrested.